Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A sad day, but life goes on ....

When I posted my last blog piece full of excitement and hope of living a more normal life now that most of our building work nears completion, little did I know that, that very same evening life would give us another knock.

Every night when we are finished outside and come in, we check that our cat Inca is in before we shut the front door. Inca as many of you will know from previous posts is a most anti social cat who by choice lives mostly upstairs. However, in the summer months she will wander about the back garden which she loves as it is a peaceful haven away from the dogs and the hurly burly of everyday normal life.

When we moved here she was very lucky to actually get here. When she did she spent the first few days up the chimney and repeated this when new animals came into the house. When we had lots of people around during the week we got married two years ago she huffed off up the mountain and after several days we thought we had lost her. But she returned after around a week when everyone had left again. You can read more about how difficult she was in many previous blog posts including her story in Meet Inca aka Hissing Sid

Anyway I digress. David came in for the evening and before he shut the front door I went upstairs to check that Inca was back indoors. I couldn't see her so I checked under the sofa in our upstairs office (one of her favourite hidey holes) and was extremely shocked and upset to find her dead!

She was laying as though she was asleep, and we can only assume that she had a heart attack. Maybe because of the heat? Who knows. But she looked extremely peaceful as though she had passed away in her sleep. She was seventeen years old but was the absolute picture of health with no signs of any illness at all. So we bade farewell to the last of the three animals that we had brought with us from the UK when we moved here, as she joined the others under the tree in the corner of our garden.

Because it was so unexpected, we were in shock for several days and it has taken me this long to find the strength to write about our loss. A sad, sad day. RIP Inca

However, life goes on and we have continued to beaver away with our projects. The garden is really coming together now, and we have been able to have a final tidy up and move the heaps of building materials from our drive and clean it for the first time in a long, long time. It is wonderful to come home to a comparatively normal house rather than the building site that has greeted us for the last two years since we began the work.

As David's shed is now complete it has been an absolute pleasure to help him move his tools and bits and pieces into it from the wood store and all around the house. So now we have storage space back in the house and the wood is finally in the wood shed instead of sitting in the drive.

David is like a child at Christmas playing with his new toys, as he is in his shed at every opportunity, sorting it out, and even sitting in it to drink his coffee. We have laughed and said we could hang a hammock in it and get a small TV and he could move out there for the summer. He is like a man obsessed!

The flower seeds I planted are coming through and it is lovely to see a bit of colour back in the garden. The peaches are virtually ready and I shall soon be making jam and chutney from those for the store cupboard.

I normally avoid commenting on anything other than our own lives in the blog, but I have been devastated to see the coverage in some of the UK press about the dangers of holidaying in Turkey, and just have to comment on this one. There are so many Turkish people who rely on tourism for their livelihood and need to earn enough money during the summer months to keep their families all year round and I find it very sad indeed that the press are publishing the articles that they are.

Yes terrorism is a threat. Not in Turkey particularly but worldwide. They don't mention that Britain is also on high alert, preferring the sensationalism of slamming Turkey. We feel as safe here as we would if we were in the UK. It could happen anywhere. I just hope that people are sensible enough to find out for themselves rather than cancelling their holidays on the back of these articles.

Tomorrow is the day of the monthly second hand sale in Fethiye, so we all know where I will be in the morning. I wonder what bargains I will find this time. I'll let you know.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Feeling blessed

After an incredibly hot few days here in Uzumlu, today we have thunderstorms and rain. So at last an opportunity to sit down and have a catch up on the blog. Summer is definitely here and even though we have bad weather today it is still lovely and warm and the rain is interspersed with sunny spells. A couple of days ago the temperature on our front terrace in the shade was 34C, and was 38.5C in our back garden in the shade, where it is more sheltered from the wind. We put the thermometer in the full sun and it promptly went off the scale which goes up to 53C, Phew! That's when I am glad of the pool for a quick dip to cool down. The temperature in our pool at the moment is 24C so it is warm enough to get in now without shuddering with shock as you descend the steps. Lovely! I just need to buy an inflatable chair so I can float around like lady muck with a drink in hand as I take a break from the jobs.

We have been so busy for the last few weeks, that May just passed us by in a blur and now here we are more than half way through June as well. I don't know where the time goes, but our lives here just fly on by.

We spent the first half of May spring cleaning the house. We washed down every nook and cranny, cleared out every cupboard and drawer, washed every curtain and when we had finished we were exhausted. It was jolly hard work, but very satisfying when done. We finished this herculean task just in time to spend some time with friends over on holiday from England.

It was great that friends were able to visit us on our wedding anniversary and we basically spent a whole day eating and drinking. The day began with the most fantastic Turk Khavalti (Turkish breakfast) at our local Cadianda restaurant in the village.

Fantastic khavalti at the Cadianda .....

..... more than we could manage to eat

It was delicious although it did beat us - we couldn't manage to eat it all, and after we all decided that a walk around the village was in order to work off some of the excess. Luckily for me the village charity - Animal Care Uzumlu who recently formed are doing a fantastic job in raising money and providing care for local animals in need - were holding a table top sale. Well, we all know how I love a rummage through the second hand sales and yes I did manage to buy a few bits and pieces!

Rummaging in the heat is thirsty work, so then it was off to Eddy's place for a drink and a sit down for a rest, before a look around the market. Then we all came back to the house and enjoyed an afternoon of chatting in the garden before changing and going out for dinner in the evening. It was a lovely, lovely day.

Pit stop at Eddy's Place

The biggest down side to moving here is missing family and friends, so it was really nice that we were able to meet some more friends for the day in Hisaronu where they were over on holiday, the following week. It was three years since we had seem them and it was just wonderful to catch up and hear all their news.They are returning to Turkey in August and we are looking forward to them coming to stay for a few days then.

Another friend holidaying in Ovacik came over and spent the afternoon with us and joy of joy brought us some packets of seeds, so they have been spread around the garden for hopefully lots of lovely colourful summer flowers in a few weeks time.

Talking of the garden, the main strawberry crop is now in. We have so far picked 9 kg some of which have been made into the first of this year's jam. The peaches are almost ripe and will be the next fruit in. I said on a previous post that we were hopeful for our first apricots this year. Sadly we actually only have three! But that is a start. We can only hope for more next year. Last year we had eleven pomegranates for the first time from our tree. This year the tree is laden with fruit.

A lot of fruit on our Pomegranate tree this year

 Three years ago we planted one grapefruit and one Clementine tree. One of them has seventeen fruit on for the first time. The only problem is that I can't remember which way round we planted them, so we have to wait and see what they turn into.

It's something - but what is it?

At last all of the major building work is completed in the garden. There is still plenty of finishing off to do, but we have reached the point where the really hard graft is done and everything we do will tidy up and the garden should now start to look more and more like a garden and no longer like a building site. I can't tell you how good that makes us feel.

Now that we will no longer be spending money each month on building materials, we have decided that we are going to buy a car. It will only be an old Turkish banger, but having it will open up endless opportunities for us to be able to get out and about a bit more. Although the dolmus service and the bus services are excellent here in Turkey we find it is still difficult for us to go out far because of not being able to leave the dogs for too long. Even going to Oludeniz by dolmus means a three hour round trip travelling without allowing for waiting time, which means we don't bother because it's not worth it for the small amount of time we have left to be there. Having a car would halve this which makes it a lot more viable.

So at the moment we are feeling truly blessed. Our garden is almost finished, another wonderful Turkish summer is here and we will soon have the time and means to get out and about a lot more to enjoy more of this beautiful country. How lucky are we?

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April is a big month for the Fogies

April is definitely one of the most momentous months for us. On an everyday basis it is the month when we begin to change from winter mode into summer one. The outdoor furniture goes back outside, the terrace starts to be an additional room in everyday use, the pool is cleaned and prepared for the season, the heating goes off, and most important of all - sunshine starts to be regular rather than a spasmodic affair.

Of course the sunshine means that we can get outside again and David is doing well with his building tasks and the garden is looking fairly good. In the veggie garden peas and broad beans are almost ready to start picking, we are already eating lettuce and the leeks and onions are doing well. But we have high hopes for the fruit trees this year. Plums and peaches are looking good, but more importantly we look as though we should at long last, five years since planting, get our first apricots and our first mulberries.We did unfortunately lose our lemon tree to the hard frosts this winter so we have to accept that Uzumlu and lemon trees do not mix - we were warned - and replace it with something else.

In the village life changes too. The goats and donkeys start to reappear and a few days ago we watched the first nomadic herd coming along the road and off up to the mountains for the summer. The shops, cafes and restaurants step up a gear with longer opening hours and summer menus. The village of course also hosts the three day mushroom festival which is great fun. Summer is in the air!

First large herd of sheep and goats going past our house this year

But April is also a big month for us on a personal level. It was April when we first saw and fell in love with our present home. It was Friday April 13th when we moved here together with our animals and incredibly we are now into our fourth year of living here. April 19th was David's 67th birthday and April 23rd was our pups (sisters) 2nd birthday.

We don't bother to go out much other than shopping in the winter, but this month we have ventured down the hill to Fethiye, Calis and Oludeniz and it's great to feel like going out and about again. We love to wander along Fethiye harbour and to take in the stunning views of the bay over a coffee. We see that early holiday makers have now arrived and the town is starting to have it's summer buzz.

Pit stop for coffee and to take in the wonderful view

One of the things we love about being here is that you never quite know what you are going to see, and last time we went to Fethiye we saw a car with it's number plate fixed to the back by putting it in a picture frame, and as we were crossing the road, suddenly along came a band dressed in traditional costume followed by hundreds of school children carrying plaques marching down the road and all the traffic ground to a halt as they made their way through the streets.

Out shopping and suddenly .. a band!

In Calis last week the beaches were still empty, although the sun loungers were piled up in the car park ready to go out, and the shops and restaurants are getting ready for the season. The activity in Oludeniz was manic as all the businesses were busy preparing for the new season to begin. The atmosphere was electric.

One small boy thoroughly enjoying Calis beach to himself, but not for much longer.

Today has been really hot. 42C in our garden and the local goats have taken over our pile of sand as their resting place. Bless!

So all in all we're feeling good and looking forward to a long hot summer.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Yesiluzumlu Mushroom Festival 2015

Today is the last day of the annual three day mushroom Festival and yesterday we wandered down to join the festivities. It seems strange to see our village which is normally so quiet heaving with visitors. The roads through the middle of the village are closed to traffic and trade stands and make shift cafes are spread along the streets. It really is a great atmosphere to be there with everyone in festive mode.

We did notice that there were not nearly as many stands as in previous years, and speaking as someone who loves to wander and browse the wares it seemed a shame. But nevertheless I did manage to make a couple of purchases.

Some lovely things on the stands

I bought two bundles of garden canes, a couple of plaques for the garden and of course a couple of bottles of Uzumlu wine. I have learnt now that it is not a good idea to drink the Uzumlu wine and then go out afterwards. Last year with family we had a very pleasant afternoon whiling away the afternoon sipping Uzumlu wine by the pool. It was our wedding anniversary and we went out in the evening for a meal with family and friends. Unfortunately after imbibing during the afternoon I found I was almost incapable of speech throughout the evening, so this time it will be savoured at home on a day we intend staying there!

There is a great choice of items made from dastar the cloth which Uzumlu is known for and has been made here for hundreds of years, and a wide selection of village foods.

Lots of village food on offer too

A lot of villagers are making gözleme (pancakes) and along with the normal fillings, mantar mushrooms are an option because it is these mushrooms which are what the festival is actually all about. However, we opted for a kofte kebab and a coffee, sitting at tables and chairs which were set out in the middle of what is a road when the festival is not on.

Gözleme being cooked everywhere ...........
........ you're spoilt for choice ......

...... and then eat it in the street

Usually when the Festival is on we can hear the evening concert at home, but this year we have had high winds from a different direction to normal and it has scuppered our chances of hearing it. However, I understand that the village square was packed and that it has been highly successful again.

Long may the festival continue it is so nice to see so many visitors enjoying what Uzumlu has to offer.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The weather has improved and it's go, go, go at Fogie's Place!

Hooray it's April and summer is getting close, another winter done. The weather is variable with some rainy days and showers but interspersed at last with some beautifully warm - almost hot days. The tortoises are coming out of hibernation, leaves are coming on the trees and both ourselves and the animals are able to spend a lot more time outside again. 

I am like a different person in the warmer weather, I hate the winters with a vengeance and whereas I sit around indoors like a blobby all winter, in the summer I am out there busy, busy, busy. I love the warmer weather.

We haven't been anywhere of interest in the last month. I have spent my time pulling the garden round and starting to sort the pool. David has been cracking on with his building and at last our major project is coming together and we can see the end in sight. Everything we do now is improving the look of the place and it is changing from gypsy encampment into visible hope of a pleasant place to sit and while away some time.

After months of using a pallet to keep the dogs in the front garden, it has now been replaced by a gate. The joy of undoing a catch and walking through instead of having to undo wire and lift a pallet out of the way every time you need to pass is unbelievable.

Goodbye Pallet ..........

...... Hello opening, properly functioning, dog proof garden gate

The wall is now built between the drive and our back garden and grapevine run along the top of it. Yes I know there is a bit of clearing up to do! We have a heap of rotten wood that was our bedroom floor but more of that later. The two biggest boulders that we had to remove from the garden - I just have to think of something to do with them. I am determined to think up some way of incorporating them into the garden somewhere, to remind us of the hard work that this project was. Also some roses that someone was taking up from a garden in Calis and were going free. Unfortunately the roots were hacked about when they were taken up, but I have put them in pots to see if I can salvage them to use at a later date in the garden.

Drive wall finally finished

David had now started on the top half of the barbecue and hopefully that will be finished very soon.

Meanwhile in the house the saga with the water damage in our bedroom continues. We had removed the parts of the wooden floor that had gone rotten, measured up the part that needed to be patched in which ended up being (we thought) a piece about 3 metres by 2 metres, and the carpenter was scheduled to come and put it in almost two weeks ago on a Thursday. The allotted Thursday duly arrived and along with it an electricity cut, so it had to be postponed to the following day. The power finally was reconnected at teatime. But at 8.30 the following day it was off again all day and the same on Saturday.

On Monday morning, anticipating that the carpenters may come that day, David checked the floor to be sure everything was OK. It was not! The boards that had been left because they were undamaged were soaking wet underneath. Anyway the long and short of it was that because when the floor had been originally laid they had not left a breathing gap around the edge, condensation was sitting under it. Obviously to have the new bits put in would have sealed it in to yet again to cause more damage later on. We therefore made the decision to rip the entire floor up and have the whole thing replaced, more expense. The carpenters are up there as I write, finally putting a new floor in and it should be finished later today. 

all ready for the new floor 

We have of course had to entirely empty the bedroom and spread the furniture all around the remaining rooms upstairs both to rip up the old floor and to put the new one down. So the other rooms upstairs now look like a second hand furniture shop with things stacked everywhere including in front of our wardrobes so that it is a major performance just getting clean clothes out to wear each day.

We will therefore be highly delighted when the job is done and all the furniture is back where it belongs. However, to prolong the inconvenience even further, in my wisdom I have decided that it is too good an opportunity to miss having the room empty and that we should decorate it now too. In the long run it seems the sensible thing to do.

On the plus side there will be enough good flooring to use for the köşk which we intend building in the front garden. That is if we ever finish the back!

Meanwhile as Head Gardener I have just finished my spring maintenance the whole way round the garden. I have weeded all the beds, retied and pruned the climbing roses, tidied up all the other plants and swept the paved areas. I have also planted a privet hedge and some bamboo between us and our neighbour to eventually give us more privacy and I have cucumber, aubergine, hot chilli pepper, bell peppers and two kinds of tomato seeds sown in pots and radish and lettuce sown in the veggie garden.

Broad beans in flower now

The peas, beans. leaks, onions and lettuce that had been planted earlier are coming along well so we may have something to eat later on when we have spent all our money on the bedroom!

All in all it's a stay at home and get on with things time of the year, so that later on we can enjoy some time with friends and family when they visit in the summer.

Friday, 27 March 2015

It's so hard to say goodbye ...

A few days ago our poorly cat Çingene passed away during the night. We miss her so much. As I had explained in previous posts she suffered from a viral infection - picked up during her life on the streets and also chronic kidney disease. She came here for terminal care (prognosis a few weeks - months at best) almost three years ago, so she did well and we feel blessed to have been able to show her a loving life in the country after her years of struggling to survive on the urban streets.

After a couple of weeks of being quite poorly, she seemed to be a lot better. We enjoyed a few really hot sunny days and she was able to go out again to visit her old haunts. On the third day of her going out to enjoy the sunshine she did not seem so well again, so I brought her back in the house and settled her in her bed with her hot water bottle. The following day, she refused to eat and her condition deteriorated throughout the day. By evening she was almost unconscious and she slipped away peacefully during the night.

It was as if she had rallied to revisit her favourite places before she said goodbye. She is buried in the garden of her haven alongside her friends Peggy, Horace and Tyson. 

She will be fondly remembered for:

Her appreciation of home comforts

Her love of the dogs

 Her fussy eating

 Her demanding behaviour

 and those beautiful eyes

 RIP Çingene we will see you again at Rainbow Bridge one day.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Spring is springing!

After an appalling few weeks weather wise, this week there are definite signs that spring is sprung. The last couple of days have been really sunny and although we will have storms and rain for a few weeks yet, looking at the long term forecast for March these are broken up by several sunny days. Now I can start to come out of hibernation and look forward to another of our beautiful summers. You will often see that I moan and complain about the cold weather, but you will NEVER see me moan about the heat!

The plum and peach tree are well in bud and the roses are starting to get new shoots. In the veggie garden the first lettuce are on the way as are the peas and broad beans. Last year we got 20 kg of fruit from both the plum and the peach tree, and enough peas and beans to last us for the whole year. Will this year be the first year we have fruit on our apricot tree? Now five years since planting, last year we had one apricot so we live in hope.

Plum tree in bud

Broad beans coming on well

It's so good to be able to get outside again, although also a little daunting with all the jobs that need to be done. Yesterday we ate our lunch outside for the first time this year and it was just wonderful to be doing that again.

David is able to crack on with the building. The wall by the drive is fully built with blocks now, just needs a bit more facing stone, and he is well into the block work for the shed.

The toilet and sink are back insitu in the bathroom where we had the leaking pipes, and we are waiting for the concrete floor to finish drying out, so that the wooden floor can be replaced above it. We really need the room up and running by mid April, so this weather should help our cause considerably.

Donkey man (we've never known his name), has brought his donkey up from the village to graze, as he does each year. We came to an arrangement with him last year that we would provide water for the donkey, and a couple of times a day he brings it to the house for a drink. We have bought a huge bowl which we have put outside our gate for her, and yesterday she was tethered to our wall, so I was able to go out and give her a good brush too, which she seemed to really like.

Donkey happy to be back outdoors

Last year it was March 21st when we saw our first tortoise out of hibernation. One very small tortoise adopted us when we first started coming here five years ago, and each year it has returned to the garden a little bigger than the year before. So hopefully we will see him/her again soon.

We have our first firm dates for family coming over to stay, and although that isn't until September we are really looking forward to that.  We didn't have many visitors last year because everyone had made the effort to come over the year before to our wedding. So this year we are hoping that some of our friends will be coming over too. We love showing off our beautiful corner of the world to guests.

Soon they should be announcing the dates of the Yesiluzumlu mushroom festival, and we love a wander into the village for that. Usually it takes place towards the end of April, but in typical Turkish fashion, the dates are only announced a short while before the event.

So at the moment all is good here at 'Fogies Place' Happy, happy days!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Goodbye February 2015

Well here we are on the last day of February. Thank goodness, I hate February! It's too cold, wet and miserable for us sun lovers. Usually the worst month of the year.

This morning I woke up to the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard, and of course our electricity immediately went off for three hours. True to my word, I have since the last cuts purchased a second hand gas heater and it has been a godsend. But yesterday the gas ran out on the cooker so I had used the bottle from the heater to cook last night. So I still didn't reap the benefit of it while the power was down. Now I am looking out for a second gas heater and a spare gas bottle. That should cover every eventuality.

Every winter I am lulled into a false sense of security as we approach Christmas and the weather is still not too bad. Cold at night admittedly but still with some nice sunny days when you can get outside to do things. Consequently, I am always surprised by how cold it starts to get in January. In January the weather starts to get colder with plenty of storms and rainy days. Bringing with them the electricity cuts that so often accompany the bad stormy weather here. We have had a particularly cold winter with several nights below freezing, even snow flurries on two occasions and it has caused havoc with some of our more tender plants. Some may recover some may not, we will have to wait and see what happens when the weather improves.

Looking back at my post on 28th February last year, I mention that "we have been blessed with some glorious weather for the last couple of weeks" Well that didn't happen this year! However, we are getting the odd sunny day now and hopefully they will soon get to be more frequent as we move into March. I do hope so.

David has been doing odd bits and pieces in the garden when the weather has permitted and has nearly completed the wall between the drive and the back garden, as well as having made a start on his shed. He is so looking forward to having a 'man cave' again. He doesn't know yet how much toot is moving out of the house into yet though!

The hard landscaping of the back garden has taken a lot longer than we thought, but it is well on the way now. The reinforced concrete hearths have gone on the barbecue and outdoor oven, so they should be finished in time to use this year. When I look back to a picture taken last spring you can at least see a difference.

hearth going on the oven base

Picture taken in March of last year

Picture almost one year on - walled raised beds, paved, bases for barbecue & oven in & wall going up

I don't 'do' outdoors in the cold, so I have spent a lot of my time, taking up an interest I started years ago, which is tracing my family history. My father and mother split up when I was only four years old, so I have never known much about my father's side of my family. So nobody was more surprised than me to discover that almost all of that side of my family originated from County Wicklow in Ireland, and I have had great fun discovering more about them over the past few weeks. I am back to the 1700's, but now it's getting difficult because Ireland sadly lost nearly all it's records during the Irish Civil War in 1922 when, after an explosion, fire destroyed the building in which they were kept. Nothing is ever easy is it? But I have always loved Ireland and it has given me a real urge to return and look around the places from which my family originate. Half Irish huh! I am so pleased.

I have only left the house twice in February. Once to go and do our monthly shopping, and another day to go to the car boot. Oh joy! I love those car boots. This time I purchased a brass oil lamp for the back garden, a rug for the sitting room, rose plants and a catering size stainless steel cooking tray complete with a drip tray to use in the outdoor oven. Then on to Eyna restaurant for a full English breakfast, followed by a rummage through the 3C's charity shop - love it!

On my last blog post I wrote about our old cat Çingene and how poorly she was. She was so poorly that for three consequetive nights I thought she would pass away in the night. I know that if at that stage I had taken her to the vets he would have put her to sleep. But as she was not in any distress and knowing her like I do, I felt inclined to give her a chance. She is still with us and is a lot better than she was. I am now thinking it is 50/50 that she will make it through the winter and into another spring.  We must not ever underestimate her spirit or sheer bloody mindedness to get through. I am still making her hot water bottles for her bed, but sometimes she is moving to sit on the radiator or a dog, and she is eating well again now, so there is hope.

Red can't work out why Kizzy is wearing a cat!

Roll on summer that's what I say!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Çingene - the uninvited 'short term' visitor

When we moved here almost three years ago, we had absolutely no plans to take on another cat. We already had two that we had brought with us from England which we thought was quite enough. However, fate moves in mysterious ways and a third came into the fold.

Having lost three, fourteen year old dogs in the last couple of years we had made no move to replace them as we knew that we were planning to move abroad, so when we hit Turkish soil we arrived with just one black Labrador. I had kept Labradors for many years in England whereas David had always been a German Shepherd owner. I was therefore easily tempted with a German Shepherd bitch that was needing a home very soon after we arrived. Although David was in the UK at the time, I went down to the vets in Calis (where she had just been spayed) to see the dog and offered it a forever home. Great, I thought, this would be a nice surprise for David on his return.

While I was viewing the dog, a member of the Animal Aid team said "You wouldn't like a cat as well would you?"

"Absolutely not!" I replied.

They went on to explain that they had a cat which was currently at the vet's in desperate need of a home. She had been found in a very sorry state at Fethiye fish market by some holiday makers who had asked Animal Aid to take her in. She was thought to be 8 or 9 years old, the vet had diagnosed chronic kidney failure and ongoing flu virus and her prognosis was poor, with the vet expecting her to only live a few more weeks - months at best. Basically she needed somewhere to be loved during her terminal care. Because of the situation with her smelly breath, snotty nose and short term prognosis they had not managed to place her and she had been living at the vets for several weeks. Not fit enough to return to the streets, yet with nowhere else to go.

"Come and see her anyway" they cleverly said and led me through to another room where in a cage was the long haired tabby of which they spoke. They opened the cage and let her out and she was so pleased to see every one and to have a few moments fuss, that of course my heart went out to her situation and bearing in mind that it was very short term care I did not have the heart to refuse her a place for a short while to live out her days with some company and love.

As agreed both the dog and cat were delivered by Animal Aid a couple of days later. They even lent me a cage to keep the cat in. So here we are, David in England still and two new animals to cope with - a German Shepherd that is a known cat chaser and a cat that is terminally ill. I thought I am obviously insane!

I opted to put her cage in the sitting room so that she had constant company and while the new dog (later to become known as Kizzi) alternated with playing with our Labrador and trying to get in the cage to eat the cat (a fact that the cat totally ignored), she was fascinated by the television and climbed on top of her sleeping box to have a better view. She sat there for a couple of hours watching the television absolutely enthralled.

Wow - a lady on the wall singing how wonderful!

The following day I decided to let her out of the cage for a wander around the sitting room and although the dog was fascinated by her and followed her around with a threatening demeanour, she survived the day unharmed.

Early days - "I eat cats, you should be scared and ......run!"

To be honest she was not the most pleasant companion, sneezing into the air constantly spreading snot wherever she went, and understandably constantly wanting attention. If ignored for more than a few minutes she took to launching herself onto my head as I passed by, so that I spent a lot of time in the first few days wearing her like a hairy Easter bonnet!

She has no fear of dogs ................

tamed the cat chaser ............

.............. and soon became one of the gang

Our cat Inca hated her with a vengeance and ran upstairs to squeeze herself under radiators and hide from this hairy interloper. Çingene however, totally ignored this bad behaviour just as she ignored the dogs. I am sure she had seen much worse living on the street for 9 years.

 Çingene totally unfazed by Inca's staring and vibes of hate coming from behind her

After a couple of days I decided to let her out and of course she immediately disappeared. After a few hours I thought that's it then I'll never find her again. But at tea time she came marching back demanding her tea and for the first time I felt that she thought of this as home.

Naming her was easy. With her known background of vagrancy I decided to call her Çingene (pronounced chingenner) which is Turkish for gypsy.

We had been asked by Animal Aid if we would contact the couple who found her in the fish market, and had indeed gone on to sponsor her at the vets on their return to Scotland. I wrote to them and sent some photographs of her and asked them about when they had found her. This is their reply

 "When I saw her first she was sitting, hunched up on the ledge of the coffee grinders shop window and was in a wretched state;emaciated, scraggy, snotty nosed but saying "Hi" and not in the least bit frightened . There was something about her brave spirit that touched mine and left me in no doubt she needed a chance of something better."

Brave spirit indeed! She has embraced having her own home at last like no other cat I have ever known. She is determined, bloody minded even and very much larger than life, a true character.

When she first arrived she was eating a prescription diet for her kidney problem, but after a while she refused to eat it and was stealing the other cats normal cat food anyway. She is the fussiest eater I have ever known. It is not unusual for me to offer her several choices in one day before she will tuck into something. It's a case of what she fancies or she will refuse to eat at all. I cook her chicken, liver, fish, try cat food, all sorts. Sometimes she will at last tuck into something and then the next day refuse to eat it again and you have to start the elimination process all over again.

I think she also felt that she needed to pay rent because every day I would hear her approaching, mewing loudly. I soon learnt to realise it meant she was bringing me a present.

One of  Çingene's presents

The second summer she was here she disappeared, we could not find her anywhere. We spent days searching the hedgerows and the mountain to no avail. We were convinced that something awful had happened to her and realised how big a place in our hearts she had stolen, she was so conspicuous in her absence. Then after around a week she arrived home looking well and happy without a care in the world and regrouped with us again.

Then the following summer she used to eat her breakfast then rush off not to be seen again for some hours, then returning at night for her tea. After a while and because she seemed to rush out with such intent, I stood on our upstairs terrace and watched where she went. She ran straight across the field in front of our house and over the wall of a recently built and occupied property and jumped straight onto their terrace. I heard the lady say "Hello" and she disappeared into their house. I imagine that because she looks so scraggy most of the time, they thought she was a street cat. This went on for weeks and weeks until when they went away on holiday. David passed their friend walking along the road one day. Striking up conversation, as you do it transpired that this lady was instructed to bring freshly cooked and chopped chicken up every day in their absence. David explained that actually she did have a home and the supply must have been cut off because after that she stopped her morning visits.

We were told by the vet that she was not spayed, but that he would not operate because she would not survive the anaesthetic. He assured us it did not matter because she was too ill to have any seasons. Wrong! After a year with us she came into season and strode around making the most hideous din. She called so loud she drove us crazy. We tried desperately to keep her indoors, but determined character that she is, she managed an escape by just jumping off the upstairs terrace - a considerable height. So after that we didn't try to contain her but gave her the morning after pill just in case.

Which brings me to another facet of her bloody minded character.  Çingene is the most difficult cat to get tablets down that I have ever encountered. At the first sight of me approaching with a tablet, metamorphosis into a larger wild cat is instant. She will contort her body and fight with every inch of her being and I have the scars to prove it. I have learnt that I have to be 100% on target at the first attempt or I can wave the idea goodbye until she has forgotten. These days I wrap her tightly in a towel to keep those claws at bay before even attempting the hated procedure and even then she can often manage to free her front legs and those claws before I even have her mouth open.

Last winter I made the cats some beds and she loves hers. This winter she has a hot water bottle in it which I replenish several times a day. But her favourite thing of all is stolen food. Given any opportunity she will steal from, plates, saucepans, dustbins, dog bowls, anything she can find. She instinctively knows the coolest places to lay at any given time of day in the summer and will move around from place to place as the sun shifts round. She knows all the warmest places to be in the winter too. I guess after so many years of having to fend for herself she is incredibly street wise You can take the cat from the street, but you can't take the street from the cat!

stealing from the dog bowl 

Loving her bed with her own hot water bottle too

Well that was almost three years ago and the short term visitor is still here. She hates the cold and her condition deteriorates every winter, and every winter we think we are going to lose her, but she has so far bounced back in the spring and managed another summer.

I think she thought she had come to paradise when she came here. She has loved her life and seems to be eternally grateful for being offered this home after all those years of surviving on the street with her illness. She is affectionate, adores me, and her laid back attitude has meant that she has survived the dogs and even Inca came to accept her presence in the end although it did take two years!

I am telling her long overdue story now because at the moment she is very poorly indeed and I didn't want her to finally lose her battle and her story to have been untold. But however this winter evolves for her, she has had at least three years of running free in a safe environment where she will continue to be loved and cherished to the end of her days.

 Çingene enjoying life in the country instead of having to survive ill on the streets of Fethiye

Monday, 26 January 2015

Two bits of good news one here and one from the UK!

I don't want to tempt fate by mentioning it, but so far we have had all services since they returned just over a week ago. It is great to be warm, to have water, to be able to heat the water for a shower, use the phone and have internet connection.

Our first bit of good news is that the builders came in to look at the considerable damage caused by a leak in the bathroom pipework. We were dreading the cost of correcting it. We have now discovered that our insurance covers the work, which we are delighted about and the guys have been in and found three leeks in the pipework, which they have mended and we are now waiting to see if the floor starts to dry out or if there are more that haven't yet been discovered. So at the moment we have one of the bedrooms and it's en-suite in complete disarray while we play the waiting game.

The bathroom has no toilet ......

.... and no sink

and the bedroom has only half a floor!

I think this is the time of year I like the least, or that I find the most frustrating. The garden looks at it's worst, but the weather is not conducive to getting outside to improve it. The odd sunny days are lovely to see and we rush outside and do a bit, but then the rains return and we are stuck inside again.

We failed in our intention to finish hard landscaping the back garden last year, but should definitely be able to finish it this year. The raised beds are all finished and the paving is all laid now, the barbecue and outdoor oven are in the process of being built. I am so looking forward to them being up and running. Once we have finished building them, then the last wall can be built and it should then start to resemble the courtyard garden that we envisaged. We have had to leave this wall until last as it is much easier to cart in concrete, paving slabs etc. before building it. We have high hopes that by the summer we will finally be able to start enjoying al fresco dinners in our lovely new garden.

I have a way to go with the planting yet, but hopefully with the building nearing completion there will be a little more money available for me to be able to spend on plants instead of having to spend any spare pennies on building materials.

After the severe cold spell several plants have been frost damaged and we are waiting to see if they recover or if it is a permanent goodbye. The biggest potential loss is the lemon tree. We were told that it is not possible to grow lemons up in Uzumlu because of the colder temperatures, but we tried anyway and had nurtured our tree through two winters by wrapping it in fleece and plastic in the cold weather. This year we had lemons on it for the first time, but it has been damaged by the frost so fingers crossed that it survives. I also have three young avocado trees that I have grown from the stones from bought avocados we have eaten. We did plant an avocado tree in the garden about five years ago, but lost it the first winter, so I have kept these in pots and consequently moved them into the house so at least they are safe from the frost.

But the really good news is that after a 17 year courtship, my daughter's partner whisked her off for a surprise weekend in Amsterdam, where she was wined and dined and then taken to the love bridge where they attached a padlock and he dropped down on one knee and proposed to her in front of all the passers by. How romantic is that! It may have taken a while but at least the proposal when it did come was planned and carried out in style. All their relatives and friends are delighted, with some saying "About bloody time!" and some saying "Are you sure you really know each other well enough for marriage?"

The soon to be Mr and Mrs Halsey in Amsterdam

Padlock fixed to the love bridge in Amsterdam

Personally I couldn't be more pleased. They are planing to get married in September next year 2016, so I have just over 18 months to save for the trip and to lose a lot of weight. I need to look my best - Mother of the bride and all that!